Dendrochronology in progress at Exeter cathedral

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Dendrochronology in progress at Exeter cathedral

Dendrochronological studies of the fine series of roofs surviving above the high vaults at Exeter Cathedral have been carried out at intervals since the early 1980s.

This view shows one of the sole plates on which the main trusses of the cathedral roof sit. It has a fairly typical sequence of rings, about 80-100, and in two places rather distinctive bunching of rings is evident. A particularly important feature of this sample is its preservation of sapwood and bark, which allows its precise felling date to be determined. This is very unusual, because medieval carpenters normally removed bark and sapwood; the sapwood was vulnerable to decay.

Analysis in the 1980s showed, disappointingly, that this timber was actually a repair of the late 18th century and therefore did not provide an exact felling date for this portion of the medieval roof.

Acknowledgments: S. Blaylock, Exeter Archaeology